Michael Jackson’s 45-Year-Old Pet Parrot, Rikki, One of Many Relocatees
MONTROSE – The 15,000-square-foot Montrose Manor is easily the largest bed and breakfast in Montrose County.
Housed on three-and-a-half acres just outside Montrose city limits, the property is also home to a menagerie that includes five pythons, five llamas, two dogs and 12 birds, six of the avian refugees from Michael Jackson’s Neverland estate, in Southern California, with names like Scarlett O’Hara, Spencer Tracy, Lauren Bacall, Charlie Chaplin and Sonny and Cher).
The star resident is Rikki, the 45-year-old parrot who was Jackson’s “personal bird,” said Hancock, and lived in the house with Jackson, at the height of the pop star’s fame.
“He’s blind in one eye – he’s just a little trooper,” Hancock said fondly, of the yellow-naped Amazon parrot with a celebrity history. "I've found pictures of Rikki sitting on Michael's shoulder," Hancock said
Hancock and her husband, Tom, started work on the property in October 2012, after buying it out of foreclosure a few months before. The house was built in 2006 by Dr. Sam Jahani, now on trial for health-care fraud and illegal distribution of pain medications (implicated in four deaths) alongside his partner, Dr. Eric Peper. The trial is ongoing; both men deny the charges against them.
The property, which went into foreclosure in 2010, also features a 1,200-square-foot, four-car garage and guest house.
“The house itself was in good condition,” despite standing vacant for three years, Hancock said, “but the exterior needed a lot of work, putting it mildly. The couple has done extensive work inside, as well, assembling five themed guest rooms, with names like Oriental Charm Room, Native American Culture Room, Precious Moments Room and the Disney Room.
The Disney Room has figurines from classic Disney films, and a large movie theater with roughly one-thousand DVD movies (and a snack bar).
"We want to provide people with the ultimate bed-and-breakfast experience," Hancock said of the Manor, which remains, she said, a "work in progress."
But the room closest to Hancock’s heart is the Whimsical Giraffe Room. “Giraffes have been my passion ever since I was little,” said Hancock, who hopes to bring her two live giraffes, Annie Sue and Princess, to the Manor as soon as a heated barn is ready to accommodate them. A few of the inanimate giraffes from her personal collection of somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 decorate the room. Most of the collection was assembled by her husband, Hancock said. “Years ago, he used to drive a truck, and he would be in a lot of different places. He knew I liked giraffes, and I swear to you, he can almost smell them from the road. It was kind of like a little game,” shopping for inanimate giraffes, she said, “to see what was the most unusual giraffe we could find.”
The couple’s penchant for rescuing abandoned animals started years ago, said Hancock. “We lived in California at the end of a paved road that turned into a dirt road. People used to drop off animals there that they didn’t want; that’s how we got started.”
In addition to animal rescue, and opening as a bed-and-breakfast, the Manor can host parties of up to 50-75, with a focus on fundraisers for nonprofit organizations throughout the region. It’s one of six homes hosting dinners for a Montrose Community Foundation/Valley Food Partnership fundraiser, on Sunday, Sept. 15, each with a regional chef creating a dinner menu from food provided by a local farmer; after dinner, partygoers move on to a local wine- and beer-tasting, dessert and coffee event, with music, at the nearby Turn of the Century Saloon.
In October, Haven House will use the Manor “for a cheese-and-wine-tasting fundraiser,” Hancock said. "We want to focus on doing special events and private parties and we particularly have a heart for the nonprofits,” to which end the couple, who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, is “trying to help them generate funds through fundraising."
Tom Hancock is now in the planning stages for a ground-floor glassed-in aviary (the birds and the pythons currently live in separate, climate-controlled rooms).
“We’re trying to do the types of things that make this place very special,” Hancock said. Visitors to the Manor are welcome to intermingle with the animals, she added.
For more information, visit montrosemanorbandb.com.